The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal for 11/14/11 (Raw Gets Rocked)

The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal for 11/14/11 (Raw Gets Rocked)
By John Canton
Follow me on Twitter at @johnreport

It’s a three hour Raw. Long show. Live from Boston, Massachusetts this is the Raw Deal…

It looked like a pack house. Jerry Lawler welcomed us to the show. Why? Because Michael Cole was in the ring setting up the Michael Cole Challenge, which had me groaning right away.

Cole brought out Jim Ross. Apparently JR had to beat Cole in all three challenges to win. They did an arm wrestling contest, which JR won quickly. They did a dance contest, which Cole was awful at and JR was good enough that he got more applause. I don’t want to describe Jim Ross dancing, nor do I need to see it again. I’m sure Vince McMahon found it hilarious though, so that’s what matters. Then they brought out a scale. Whoever weighed less won the challenge. Cole weighed 200 pounds while JR weighed 239 pounds. Cole won his challenge because Ross had to win all three or else he lost. Yes, they tried to pretend there were rules to this too. What a brutal segment. They spent three weeks hyping this up. It got more hype than some Survivor Series matches. This will be the last time they mock JR until the next time they do it in a few months. Lame. Let’s check in with Booker T. to find out what he thought about that segment…

Following one of the worst opening segments in Raw history, CM Punk came out to a huge ovation in part because he’s awesome, but also because that was such a bad segment. I’ve always been a fan of CM Punk. I marked out for his heel turn on Jeff Hardy in 2009 and his WWE Title win at Money in the Bank was the highlight of this year, but saving us from this segment made me like him even more. Punk basically told Cole that he sucked, that he was boring, that he ruined the show and all the things that any sensible person knows to be true. He said he’d make the show entertaining again when he became WWE Champion. Cue the un-entertaining one, interim Raw GM John Laurinaitis, who mentioned that his 30,000+ Twitter followers didn’t want to see this competition ended. Punk told him to screw himself and his Twitter followers. Then JL booked Punk & Show vs. Henry & Del Rio for later in the show. He left, so Cole asked Punk for an apology. Instead, Punk put him in the Anaconda Vice as Cole screamed like a little bitch. That means Punk is one of the three stars of the show automatically because he attacked Cole. Well done. Punk’s part of the segment was good. Everything before it was downright awful.

They had Matt Striker out in the parking lot. He was waiting for who we thought was The Rock. Instead, a car pulled up and out walked Mick Foley, who was unadvertised although most knew he was going to be on. Big pop for him. Great to see him back in WWE. He mentioned Boston for a cheap pop and walked into the building.

Back from break, Jim Ross was at the announce desk with Jerry Lawler. It was not a permanent thing, as we would learn later.

Cody Rhodes & Hunico d. Sin Cara & Kofi Kingston (*3/4)
The first thing to note here is that Cody was without his mask and had another new theme song. They replayed two Smackdowns ago when Orton beat him clean, took off his mask and put the bag on Rhodes’ head. I think it’s a good move to move on from the gimmick. It ran its course. They needed to ditch it in order to elevate Rhodes in the near future. The other thing to note is that there was no mention of the suspended Evan Bourne. I assume they’ll just have Kofi wrestle without mentioning that his partner is gone. They won’t even bring up the 30 day title defense rule because it’s not really a rule. This was a decent tag match that got about eight minutes although the commercial hurt it. Kingston got the hot tag, Sin Cara took out Hunico, Kofi tried to put Cody down, but he failed and Rhodes ended up hitting the Cross Rhodes to win the match. Kofi jobbing wasn’t a surprise. They are continuing to push Rhodes while Kingston is mainly a tag wrestler, so losing a match like this is fine. I liked the exchanges with Sin Cara & Hunico as well. They have great chemistry.

Backstage, they showed The Rock arriving with a beanie hat on his head and a gym bag. The crowd popped big. No Matt Striker around to interview him. Way to dodge him, Rock. Maybe he was reading Hombre magazine.

They did a comedy segment in the locker room with Santino playing the WWE 12 game as Zack Ryder walked up to him. Zack mentioned his US title petition and wanting Santino to sign it, so at the end of the segment he did it. They also ended up talking about Rock & Cena with Santino showing support to Rock while Ryder was in favor of Cena. At least they agreed Rock/Cena would win at Survivor Series. Well now everything is okay. It was a decent segment.

The announcers plugged the video game again. Out next Tuesday the 22nd, but pre-order to get The Rock in the game and on the cover. Sure. I don’t play video games. Moving on, Vickie annoyed us on stage by mentioning Christian had an ankle injury. See, they can mention legit ankle injuries but they can’t mention legit drug suspensions (hi Evan Bourne how you doing?). Now you know. Anyway, she was about to announce the replacement on Team Barrett for Survivor Series, but Dolph Ziggler interrupted. Ziggler did one of his very good, fast talking promos where he put himself over as the best. You know the spiel by now. I’m not complaining. I like it. I wish he got to speak more. He also ripped on Mason Ryan during the promo because that’s his opponent. The only problem with the promo that Dolph did is that he said it was funny that they called it Team Barrett and didn’t name it after him. That’s probably because you weren’t on the team until Monday. It’s okay, though. I loved the promo. He doesn’t need Vickie as a manager anymore.

Back from break, before the match started John Laurinaitis had Michael Cole replace Jim Ross at the announce desk. Groan. Cole had a sling on to sell his arm injury from Punk’s attack earlier.

Mason Ryan d. Dolph Ziggler via DQ (1/4*)
I can’t put “DUD” by Ziggler’s name. Can’t do it. He’s too good. They only got one minute because they know Ryan sucks, I guess. Then why put him out there? Oh right because he has big muscles covered in baby oil. Hey Vince McMahon, how you doing? Vickie slapped Ryan, so the ref DQ’d Dolph. I’m pretty sure that’s happened before many times and it didn’t lead to a finish. Bad finish. None of the geniuses on the creative team could have come up with something better? After the match, Ziggler ran away, but John Morrison threw him back into the ring and Ryan hit a Full Nelson slam on Ziggler. Morrison beat Ziggler last week. What happened to Ryder being involved? I have no idea.

Backstage, they showed Mick Foley walking backstage. He bumped into Zack Ryder, who taught him how to fist pump and also said his catchphrase with him. Then Zack mentioned his petition again. At least he’s persistent.

At the top of hour two (the usual start of the show), Mick Foley was introduced to a big pop. He’s one of my favorite people in WWE history. I’m excited about going to one of his comedy shows in a few weeks too. There was a nice “Foley Foley” chant. Foley said there was no place like home. In case you didn’t know, he was in TNA for the last three years. His deal expired there and he’s back in WWE although we don’t know how often he’ll be used or if he’ll be a regular on Raw. I hope so. Wait and see, I guess.

Foley brought out John Cena, who got a lot of boos like usual even though he was in an arena that was very close to his hometown. Cena said he didn’t pick Rock as his partner because he was his friend. He picked him because he’s fantastic and electrifying. Foley put Cena over huge, saying he’s one of the greatest WWE Superstars ever to which Cena made a painful expression on his face. Then Foley talked about how a few years ago he wrote a letter by hand to Cena saying how he was such a great guy to everybody from the lowest guy on the roster (congrats to JTG on that shoutout) to the top guys. The whole point of the segment (I think) was for Foley to bring Cena & Rock closer together because that’s what he does apparently.

The next part of the segment was Foley setting up a “This is Your Life” segment for Cena. It started out with a video to the tune of some cheesy song. You don’t have to tell me the name of the song. It was so bad that Cena made fun of it. At this point you could tell they were going for campy comedy, which is McMahon’s favorite. They brought out Cena’s little league coach (most likely an actor), who said Cena struck out in the clutch and John said this segment was striking out. Yes it was. Then they showed a clip from 2003 with Cena rapping along with his then sidekick B2 aka Bull Buchanan. He was there. He cut a promo thanking Cena for helping him, then blaming Cena for all his problems after he got fired. Where’s the shoutout to the Right to Censor? Cena was openly mocking this too, looking ashamed of his rapping gimmick. Next was John Cena’s dad, who is John Cena Sr. and he works on the indy circuit as a heel manager in the Boston area I believe. He’s got a lot of charisma. He basically ripped on the fans for booing Cena, saying how hard his son works and I’m thinking how surreal this is considering they were talking about a top babyface. He left. Cena was embarrassed by the whole thing. He said “my two feet in this ring is all I have.” Way to put over your wife, JC. He can’t even sell marriage! Anyway, Mick said he had more and Cena said who was left, Frank the Clown? I loved that. Frank’s my co-host on TJR Radio every month. You may know him from when he sits ringside at some WWE events wearing a clown costume. Very cool. Anyway, The Rock came out unannounced, marched to the ring with his music playing, gave Mick Foley a Rock Bottom and then left. I guess he hated the segment too? It ended with Rock leaving while Cena tended to Foley.

I think that was intentionally booked to be a bad segment. Yes, that’s what 2011 does. Instead of doing productive segments they book things to be bad. If not, then whoever came up with the idea and wrote the segment should be sent packing. It was brutal. I know that it was a tongue in cheek way of bringing up the famous Foley/Rock “This is your life” segment from 1999, but this didn’t work. At least they had Cena make fun of it too instead of pretending as if it was a good thing. It’s good to have Mick Foley back. I just wish they did something better with him instead of hosting a bad comedy segment that failed on a lot of levels. The lasting impression was that Rock didn’t have any interest in Foley mending the Cena/Rock relationship. It took about twenty minutes to get there. It felt like an hour. Make no mistake about it, that was a bad segment just like the Cole/Ross one. Way too much time for each.

Back from break, they aired a clip of Sheamus at the Europe Music Awards, giving an award to Justin Bieber. I’m surprised Lawler didn’t say Bieber was his favorite singer. You’re slipping, old man.

Sheamus d. Jack Swagger (*1/2)
I’m a fan of both guys. They got about eight minutes with a commercial in the middle, so we saw about five minutes total. Sheamus won clean with the Brogue Kick because he’s a near main eventer while Swagger’s stuck in midcard-ville. Just like the earlier match where Cody got the win because he’s higher up on the totem pole than the other guys. I was actually pleased that they remembered how to book a clean finish because they tend to forget how to book finishes lately.

The Bella Twins were backstage flirting with Ryder and then Del Rio because their gimmick is being whores. Maybe it’s not a gimmick. It’s better than them in the ring. Basically Del Rio acted like he was too good for everybody. Waste of time.

Mini rant time: Dear WWE, wake the hell up. Zack Ryder is over. His merch is selling, he’s generating big pops and he’s a native New Yorker that isn’t even booked for Survivor Series in New York City. WHAT DA HAYELL?!?! How can you tell your stockholders that you want to create new stars when you refuse to do it? It took you 30 weeks to use the guy after he was getting over on the net. Now he’s getting over with fans all over and you choose to ignore it. It’s ridiculous. And no, adding Ryder vs. Ziggler at the PPV or on Smackdown isn’t a good move. It should have been here. Put some other heel in Christian’s spot. Ryder over Ziggler should be happening on Sunday. Instead, Zack’s gone from being a TV main eventer last week who got a big pop to the idiot that asks for a petition to be signed. BUILD YOUR STARS! End rant.

Back from break, they had a video package of Kelly Kelly taking photos for Maxim magazine. Do people still get magazines? I get Sports Illustrated still, but barely read through it. I guess you get Maxim for the photos, but they’re probably online already.

Kelly Kelly d. Natalya (DUD)
It’s a dud because it got less than a minute. Kelly won with a cradle. When doesn’t Natalya lose? It seems like an every week thing. The booking quality of the divas is very low at this point. I do like the Beth/Natalya pairing, but when one of them loses all the time it makes the team look bad. They also announced Beth vs. Eve for the Divas Title at Survivor Series because of all the clamoring for more Eve title shots. The clamoring by whom? Not this guy.

Backstage, Laurinaitis is on the phone telling Brodus Clay that he can debut next week because if it was this week he would have been overshadowed by the Rock. Way to plan ahead, WWE. Second straight week they did this. Maybe they are making fun of themselves for having no long term planning. It’s not a debut if he was already on the show, by the way. It’s a return. Then Del Rio came in and he complained about Punk. Laurinaitis fired back, almost babyface-like. Del Rio ended it by saying he’d be WWE Champion longer than JL would be Raw GM. I hope so.

The announcers went over the PPV lineup. I’ll have a preview up with the TJR crew on Friday after Smackdown most likely. It’s a five match card at this point unless they add more.

In the back, Striker tried to interview Miz & R-Truth. They didn’t say a word. I wish Cole was that quiet.

They showed CM Punk walking in the backstage area. He got attacked by Del Rio. Refs broke it up. We were going into the top of the third hour with a match. That’s nice.

Mark Henry & Alberto Del Rio d. Big Show & CM Punk (**1/4)
The two major WWE title holders versus their two challengers. Del Rio’s Hombre magazine cover was shown on the big screen. He smiled at it. Punk came out last, so he sold his arm injury a bit although it wasn’t a major sell job by him. He only sold for about a minute into the match before it was forgotten. They got about twelve minutes. They went into the commercial with Big Show dominating, Henry bailing and arguing with Del Rio about who was going to get in the ring. Back from break, Punk was getting beat up. I guess they figured it out huh? They didn’t even do a big hot tag spot. It ended up with all four guys fighting it out in the ring. Henry was able to dispatch Show for a bit, then Henry hit the World’s Strongest Slam on Punk. Del Rio rolled into the cover for the win, so the story is that ADR got the upper hand going into the PPV. Post match, he put the Cross Armbreaker on Punk as well. That means I’m picking Punk to win the title at Survivor Series. Get beat up on TV, win on PPV. That’s the theory I go by. Nobody got the advantage in the Henry/Show story, but that will be followed up on Smackdown.

Quick plug for a very entertaining sports (and some wrestling) site featuring my buddy Brandon Stroud called With Leather as part of the Uproxx network. His Tuesday “Best and Worst of Raw” column is on point and pretty funny. We may be working together on a project soon.

Next up was Santino for some in-ring comedy. He said Boston is where he almost won the Royal Rumble. He finished second to Del Rio. He said Boston would be known as the city where he put his career back on track and next time he returns he’ll be a champion. Cue Kevin Nash’s theme song. He comes out, asks Santino to do the trombone, he does it, turns around and Nash drops him with the big boot to the face. Nash said he got a big ovation at the Rumble, but did Hunter hire him after that? No. Now he’s there and Hunter isn’t. You can pencil in Nash vs. Hunter for the TLC PPV in December, folks. Or write it in marker. It’s happening. Nash hit the Jackknife Powerbomb on Santino before leaving. Just for fun. This was okay. They want to keep Nash away from other faces because they want the focus to be on his feud with Hunter, so using Santino to get beat up works for me. It was a useful segment because it didn’t run too long and it builds up Nash’s character, which is still new to a lot of people.

They mentioned that Jonah Hill is guest starring on Raw next week. He’s skinny now. In the movie he’s promoting he’s still fat. That may confuse Vince McMahon. Somebody let him know. I like Jonah. Funny guy. I’m okay with guest stars that are actually famous if they are used in small doses.

Prior to the next match, they replayed Smackdown when Barrett pinned Orton following a poke to the eye that the ref didn’t see. They used to give Drew McIntyre the poke to the eye gimmick back when he actually won matches. That feels like ages ago now.

Randy Orton d. Wade Barrett via DQ (*)
All the guys on their Survivor Series teams were at ringside. You knew there wouldn’t be a finish. Orton hit his DDT off the ropes and that led to Cody charging the ring for the DQ. The faces cleaned house, hitting their finishers as the heels retreated with Orton hitting the RKO on Hunico. Then Mason Ryan threw Hunico over the top and he crashed onto his teammates on the floor. It’s so kind of them to break his fall. I’m not sure who is going over at Survivor Series. It depends on how things go on Smackdown. If it was me I’d put Barrett over because they are trying to push him back up again, but it’s hard for WWE to book both Orton & Sheamus to lose these days. They could get eliminated on a fluke pin or via DQ if they really want to protect them.

They went to break hyping up the last segment of the night. Finally it’s time for The Rock. This show dragged big time.

The Rock has finally returned to Boston
Huge pop for Rock coming out. He did all of his signature poses. He mentions waking up very early where he is filming GI Joe, eating breakfast cereal (no Fruity Pebbles of course) and getting to Boston in the afternoon. Then he busted out his “finally” line to a huge ovation. Rock was really over. He said he loved Foley, but he couldn’t watch him serve up a plate of hot garbage to the people. They chanted “Thank You Rock” because they hated that segment too. Smart people. He mouthed “you’re welcome” which was kinda funny. He said he’s the most electrifying man in entertainment and Twitter-tainment. Oh no, he’s doing it too. He said “Boots to Asses” would be trending worldwide on Twitter. Apparently it was soon after he said this (as #BootstoAsses). That is power. Vince must be having a Twittergasm. Soon after the crowd was chanting “Boots to Asses” too. The phrase is on the back of his Team Bring It shirt too. He said he wasn’t waiting six days. He wanted to give an ass whipping to Awesome Truth right now.

The Miz & R-Truth walked out to some major heel heat. They didn’t say very much except when they are on Raw the show gets…wait for it…awesome. Well played fellas. Miz said they didn’t care what Rock gets to trend. All they cared about was leaving Rock a quivering mess. They said on Sunday the Rock will get beat as the crowd chanted “Boots to Asses” again. They really enjoyed chanting that. It looked like Miz & Truth were about to leave, but John Cena’s music started.

John Cena made his way down to the ring to a mixed reaction. Again, it’s his home arena. He still can’t get the love of everybody. Rock stood facing Truth while Cena had his back to Rock while facing The Miz. The camera focused on both of them, though. Cena said instead of being the captain of Team Bring It, all Rock has brought are a bunch of crappy promos via satellite. Ouch. Rock should have said “at least people have seen my movies.” Have you seen how much money WWE Films is losing for WWE? OH MY GOODNESS! Rock told Awesome Truth to excuse his partner because he’s not used to having the support of somebody that has hit puberty. A nice shot at Cena for having a lot of fans that are kids. Do kids know that Rock just insulted them? Not sure. Rock said Cena should be concerned with his boot hitting Cena in his lady parts. Soon after that, “Cena’s Lady Parts” (as #CenasLadyParts) was trending on Twitter. Vince must love that too. Then Cena fired back by basically saying if Rock screws up then “Cena bitchslapping Rock” may trend on Twitter. I guess what they’re saying is they love Twitter. Miz said he was sick of them arguing back and forth because the last time he was overlooked he beat Cena at WrestleMania for the WWE Title. Then lost it a few weeks later. Only I mentioned that last part. Truth said they’d see them on Sunday. Basically, Miz & Truth added nothing.

Rock spoke again, saying he didn’t want to wait until Sunday. He attacked Truth. Cena attacked Miz. Rock hit the Rock Bottom on Truth to a huge pop. Cena went to give Miz the Attitude Adjustment, but Rock pulled Miz down and hit a Rock Bottom on him too. Rock left. Cena seemed upset that he didn’t get to hit the AA. Cole played up the fact that Rock stole the spotlight, so it would be hard for them to work together. That’s how the show ended.

I liked the promo. Rock was amazing like usual. He’s on a level above everybody in the company with CM Punk being right behind him. I would love to see them cutting promos together because that would be pure magic. Cena was pretty good here too. His lines were funny. I think Rock getting physical was the right call too. The fans wanted to see it. They got it. We’ll see if he is rusty on Sunday since it’s his first match in seven years. I’d expect him to be fine.

Regarding all this Twitter madness, a lot of Raw related things were trending on Twitter. The thing is, does mentioning Twitter so much (apparently 139 times during Raw) do anything for viewership or PPV buys? I’m not sure. I use Twitter. I’ve done nearly 30,000 tweets on there in over two years, but I don’t know that it helps a TV show that is supposed to build to a PPV on Sunday. You don’t make money for being a trending topic. It means people are talking about your show, but it’s also because you mentioned it 139 times too. It’s not like they have the audience of the NFL game or a show like Two and a Half Men. A TV show should care more about ratings than it cares about trending topics because you get paid based on the ratings. That’s how you make money off ad rates. What do fans think who don’t have Twitter? They probably don’t care. It’s probably a turn off for them. Like I’ve said I’m sure all the Twitter love is a command by Vince McMahon because somebody convinced him how good it is to be a trending topic, but it’s hurting the show at times.

Back to the main event of Survivor Series because I actually think it’s important unlike WWE, who thinks promoting Twitter is more important. Like I said a couple of weeks ago, the draw of this main event match isn’t if Miz & Truth are going to win. You know they are going to lose. The draw of the match is what will happen with Rock & Cena when they team up at Survivor Series. I guess they could have Miz & Truth go over because of the faces messing up. However, I think that would be a bad way to end the night. Obviously that match doesn’t have to go on last, but I expect that it will.

Three Stars of the Show
1. CM Punk – He attacked Michael Cole. Automatic star. He was pretty funny on the microphone too.
2. The Rock – Promo was fun. Good to see him back.
3. Mick Foley – His segment wasn’t great, but I guess that was the point. I don’t care. Great to see him back “home” after three years of being away.

5 out of 10
Last week: 6
2011 High Score: 9.1 (March 28)
2011 Low Score: 3.5 (October 10)
2011 Average: 5.69
Last 5 Weeks: 6, 5.5, 4.5, 6, 3.5

I’m going with a very average rating of five. It was a bit down from last week. I have no other final comments. I wrote enough about this three hour show that felt like it was six hours long. I’m strongly against three hour Raw episodes. I’m already dreading the Slammys in December.

I’ll be back later in the week with the Survivor Series preview along with the TJR staff. I won’t have time to finish my Survivor Series history column this week. I will save it for next week because things changed this week. On Sunday I will write about Survivor Series live on so join me for that to see what happens.

Thanks for reading.

John Canton –
Twitter @johnreport

Visit my 10+ year column archive at the Wrestling Oratory right HERE.

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